DHL Supply Chain urges a unified approach towards HGV compliance schemes across major cities

A senior executive at DHL Supply Chain has called for a common approach to HGV compliance across major cities.

Speaking at last week’s Freight in the City Expo, DHL Supply Chain vice president for innovation, strategy and business Phil Roe (pictured) said while a national standard was not the solution, he believed a more unified approach to compliance would help local authorities and operators to adopt best practice in sustainable urban freight movements.

Increasing regional devolution meant that national standards “don’t work very well any more”,” Roe explained, because local needs are seen to supersede those national minimum standards.

However, as individual cities and regions step-up their local focus on issues such as air quality, noise, use of road space and vehicle safety, the emergence of multiple sets of regulations could cause confusion for operators in knowing which rules to follow. This in turn could hinder the adoption of new technology, Roe warned.

He added: “What we would like to see is not a new scheme – and I absolutely want to stress that – but what we do need is a more unified approach for our compliance schemes.

“I am talking about the scope that those compliance schemes refer to and the areas that they apply. We think the key areas are about covering safety, fuel economy and emissions, but also largely noise. Because that is what residents and receivers of goods tell us really matters.”

Roe suggested drawing on the best practice already brought about by existing initiatives such as Fors, Clocs and ECO Stars, which have been “fantastic” in driving safety and environmental advancements across the sector, rather than create brand-new regulations.

This would enable individual city regions to still focus on their own urban targets, but using guidelines already established by existing schemes for specifying vehicle kit and training, for example. This would help operators to kit their fleets out confidently with the latest safety equipment and know this would be acceptable across multiple cities.

“If an approach is taken in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, where 65% of my fleet might be operating, for example, this effectively becomes a de facto national standard,” he added.

There should also be incentives for those operators that do opt for cleaner, quieter and safer vehicles, Roe added, to help them recoup some of their financial investment. For example, he suggested less restrictive operating hours would enable operators to run trucks over longer hours and recoup some of the investment in technology for its fleet.

“This won’t happen overnight, but is a long-term vision…I’m calling for all those industry bodies and compliance schemes to pull together so we can create a united front to meet our vision,” he added.